Thanks to the efforts of about 100 volunteers with the 29th Annual Southeast Kentucky Empty Stocking Fund, about 430 less fortunate children got a better Christmas this year.
“We are trying to serve the children and make a difference in their lives,” noted Empty Stocking Fund President Joe Caldwell. “We just try each year to improve on what we did before.”
He noted that the number of participants for the program was down this year.
He hopes this is due to more people finding employment and not needing the program, but he speculated a large part of the reason is due to the shutdown of Forest Lanes bowling alley, which caused a lot of people to assume that the Empty Stocking Fund event wouldn’t be taking place this year.
“They just provided the space for us and bowling for the children,” Caldwell noted. “I don’t think we did a good job of advertising early enough.”
Caldwell said that he thinks the numbers will be back up around 500 children for next year’s 30th Annual Empty Stocking Fund event.
Because of the bowling alley being closed, this year’s Empty Stocking Fund giveaway was held at The Corbin Center.
Prior to the event, Tri-County Cineplex owners Greg and Suzy Razmus offered free soda and popcorn to all participants and their parents, and a free movie prior to the giveaway.
Pizza and Company once again provided about 60 extra large pizzas to help feed the children, and several of their parents as well.
Then the giveaway took place in the interior entryway of The Corbin Center.
Each child received a wrapped gift in addition to a new pair of athletic shoes, six pairs of socks, candy, and a pillow among other items.
Waste Connections also gave away several bicycles to a random group of children.
Caldwell said he is thankful for The Corbin Center allowing the Empty Stocking Fund to use its facility for free Tuesday night and Wednesday for the gift-wrapping effort and then the Christmas giveaway.
He noted this is the start of a new tradition.
“This year is kind of a restart. It is like we had a rain out and didn’t call the race. We just waited until the storm was over, regrouped and found another place,” Caldwell added.